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Disability Education: Scholarships, Special Ed, Learning Difficulties

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/01/18

Synopsis: Information and news regarding disability education and schooling, includes scholarships for various disabilities and material on learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia.

Main Document

This category of Disabled World covers education for persons with disabilities including disability scholarships and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.

UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Right to education:

The Convention states that persons with disabilities should be guaranteed the right to inclusive education at all levels, regardless of age, without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity.

State Parties should ensure that:

  • Children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education;
  • Adults with disabilities have access to general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning;
  • Persons with disabilities receive the necessary support, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education; and
  • Effective individualized support measures are put in place to maximize academic and social development.

A smiling man in graduation attire is sitting on a bench in a garden.
A smiling man in graduation attire is sitting on a bench in a garden.

State Parties should take appropriate measures, such as:

  • Endorsing the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
  • Supporting the learning of sign language and promoting the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
  • Advocating that education of persons, particularly children, who are blind and/or deaf, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and means of communication for the individual; and
  • Employing teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train education professionals and staff about disability awareness, use of augmentative and alternative modes and formats of communication, and educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.

Education For All is based on the fundamental principle that all persons should have the opportunity to learn:

Inclusive education is the education framework for including children with disabilities and was originally based on a principle stating that all should have the opportunity to learn together.

Education For All does not limit its focus to primary education, but includes secondary and tertiary education as well. Children and adults with disabilities do not only have the right to an education, they have the right to be part of today's mainstream education system.

  • In Australia

    Disability Standards for Education were formulated under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and tabled in Parliament on 17 March 2005 and came into effect in August 2005. The Standards clarify the obligations of education and training providers to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access and participate in education without experiencing discrimination.

  • In the U.K.

    It is the ambition of the special educational needs (SEN) and disability division that every child with special educational needs reaches their full potential in school, and can make a successful transition to adulthood and the world of further and higher education, training or work.

  • In the U.S.

    The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) provides leadership and support for a comprehensive program of research related to the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. All their programmatic efforts are aimed at improving the lives of individuals with disabilities from birth through adulthood.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. Originally titled Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EAHCA), it was based on Congress' finding that the millions of children with disabilities had educational needs which were not being met. Schools must evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, including learning disabilities. IDEA's primary purpose is to assure that students with disabilities receive sufficient services to enable them to lead productive adult lives.

    Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C.

    Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B

    *Not every child with learning and attention issues qualifies for special education services under IDEA.

Quick Facts Regarding Disability and Education:

Typical learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, often complicated by associated disorders such as attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder.

  • Ninety per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, says UNESCO.
  • The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 per cent, and 1 per cent for women with disabilities, according to a 1998 UNDP study.
  • In the OECD countries, students with disabilities in higher education remain under-represented, although their numbers are on the increase, says the OECD.

IDEA Part B Statistics (U.S.)

In the fall of 2012, there were 67,529,839 students ages 6 to 21 in the United States. Of these students ages 6 to 21, 5,693,441 or 8.4 percent received special education services under IDEA, Part B. Hawaii had the smallest percentage (6.3 percent), while New Jersey had the largest percentage (11.6 percent).

Of the 6,429,431 youth ages 3 to 21 who received special education services under IDEA, Part B, in the fall of 2012, 735,890 (or 11.4 percent) were 3 to 5 years old; 2,631,472 (or 40.9 percent) were 6 to 11 years old; 2,700,531 (or 42.0 percent) were 12 to 17 years old; and 361,538 (or 5.6 percent) were 18 to 21 years old.

The 5,693,441 students ages 6 to 21 who received special education services under IDEA, Part B, in the fall of 2012 were in the following diagnostic categories:

  • 2,268,098 (or 39.8 percent) in specific learning disability
  • 1,032,729 (or 18.1 percent) in speech or language impairment
  • 415,697 (or 7.3 percent) in intellectual disabilities
  • 359,389 (or 6.3 percent) in emotional disturbance
  • 124,722 (or 2.2 percent) in multiple disabilities
  • 68,069 (or 1.2 percent) in hearing impairments
  • 52,052 (or 0.9 percent) in orthopedic impairments
  • 757,904(or 13.3 percent) in other health impairments
  • 24,987 (or 0.4 percent) in visual impairments
  • 440,592 (or 7.7 percent) in autism
  • 1,281 (or 0.02 percent) in deaf-blindness, 25,020 (or 0.4 percent) in traumatic brain injury
  • 122,901 (or 2.1 percent) in developmental delay

U.S. Disability Schooling Statistics

  • The percentage of total public school enrollment that represents children served by federally supported special education programs increased from 8.3 percent to 13.8 percent between 1976 - 77 and 2004 - 05. Much of this overall increase can be attributed to a rise in the percentage of students identified as having specific learning disabilities from 1976 - 77 (1.8 percent) to 2004 - 05 (5.7 percent).
  • The overall percentage of students being served in programs for those with disabilities decreased between 2004 - 05 (13.8 percent) and 2010 - 11 (13.0 percent). However, there were different patterns of change in the percentages served with some specific conditions between 2004 - 05 and 2010 - 11.
  • The percentage of children identified as having other health impairments (limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes) rose from 1.1 to 1.4 percent of total public school enrollment, the percentage with autism rose from 0.4 to 0.8 percent, and the percentage with developmental delay rose from 0.7 to 0.8 percent.
  • The percentage of children with specific learning disabilities declined from 5.7 percent to 4.8 percent of total public school enrollment during this period.
  • From school years 1990 - 91 through 2004 - 05, the number of children and youth ages 3 - 21 who received special education services increased, as did their percentage of total public school enrollment: 4.7 million children and youth ages 3 - 21, or about 11 percent of public school enrollment, received special education services in 1990 - 91, compared with 6.7 million, or about 14 percent, in 2004 - 05.
  • The number and percentage of children and youth served under IDEA have declined each year from 2005 - 06 through 2011 - 12. By 2011 - 12, the number of children and youth receiving services had declined to 6.4 million, corresponding to 13 percent of total public school enrollment.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Digest of Education Statistics, 2012 (NCES 2014-015), Chapter 2.



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